Knowing your numbers

Cholesterol levels are some of the most important numbers you need to know for heart health. It is recommended that these levels should be measured at least once every five years for everyone over the age of 20.

In the last few years, the government health department issued a new standard for cholesterol levels. According to Washington University primary care physician, Scott Wasserstrom, MD, “These new numbers reflect the importance of high cholesterol on heart health and the rising number of Americans at risk for heart disease. The optimal goal for lipid levels depends on each person’s other risk factors (such as smoking, diabetes, or existing heart disease).”

Here is a guideline to help you understand your cholesterol report:

Total blood cholesterol:

  • Desirable — less than 200
  • Borderline high risk — 200-23
  • High risk — 240 or higher

HDL cholesterol (the higher the better):

  • Optimal — 60 and above
  • Heart disease risk — less than 40

LDL cholesterol level:

  • Optimal — less than 100
  • Near optimal — 100-129
  • Borderline high risk — 130-159
  • Very high risk — 190 or higher

Triglyceride level:

  • Normal — less than 150
  • Borderline high — 150-199
  • High — 200-499
  • Very high — 500 or higher

Total blood cholesterol – is a measure of LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and other lipid components. HDL – High density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “good” cholesterol. The higher number the better, because HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease by taking the “bad” cholesterol out of your blood.

LDL – Low density lipoprotein cholesterol, also called “bad” cholesterol. It can build up on the walls of the arteries and increase your chances of getting heart disease. The lower your LDL number, the better it is for your health.

Triglycerides – Fats carried in the blood from the food we eat. Excess calories, alcohol, or sugar are converted into triglycerides and stored in fat cells throughout the body. A high triglyceride level has been linked to the occurrence of coronary artery disease in some people.

Dr. Wasserstrom is a primary care physician with Washington University Clinical Associates – Maryland Medical Group. He is currently accepting new patients. His office is located at 1110 Highlands Plaza Drive East, Suite 375 – close to I-64 and Hampton Avenue.

Please call 314-367-3113 for an appointment.